(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement upon the Senate’s approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 by a vote of 91-3:
“This vital defense measure helps assure continued military superiority in every arena – so our warriors should never see a fair fight. Today’s long-overdue approval of the NDAA will ensure continued funding for crucial national security programs and sustained support for our nation’s service members who have dedicated their lives to keeping our country safe. In an uncertain era of unprecedented threats, this measure dispenses with artificial, unnecessary sequestration-imposed barriers – enabling our country to continue addressing urgent national security priorities.
“I am pleased that this bill authorizes $5.3 billion for Virginia Class Submarines, $8.5 billion for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, and $11 million for a new Connecticut National Guard construction project. This measure also preserves several provisions to support and sustain our men and women in uniform that I helped craft and fought for, including financial literacy training for troops and a joint uniform formulary between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to maintain medical care as they transition. For the first time, 83% of service members not previously eligible for any military retirement benefits will now be eligible to participate in a retirement plan – a significant victory for the men and women who have served our country.
“I am also grateful that this measure stops critical defense funds and taxpayer dollars from going to professional sports organizations to honor American troops at sporting events. I will continue to call on these organizations donate any amount they received for programs to honor our men and women in uniform to charities supporting service members, veterans, and their families. Finally, this measure reflects our commitments to assist our allies with defense cooperation, specifically Israel with advanced missile defense and Ukraine with increased lethal aid. I am grateful that my colleagues were able to come together to ensure our nation’s safety is secured and pass this critical legislation."